Pediatric Urinary Tract Infection
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
What is pediatric urinary tract infection?
Pediatric urinary tract infection is a common condition in children, which is caused by bacteria infecting any part of the urinary system. The urinary system includes the urethra (the tube between the bladder and the skin), the bladder, ureters (tubes between the kidneys and the bladder) and the kidneys. The infection is non-transmittable. It usually develops when bacteria from the bowel or the genital region ascend through the urethra to the bladder or kidney. Symptoms include fever, pain in the lower region of the belly, frequent urination in small portions and an odd smell to the urine. With antibiotic treatment, most children recover quickly.
Young children are more likely than older children to get this condition. Uncircumcised boys may be more likely than circumcised boys to get this condition. Children with a urinary tract which did not form properly before birth are more likely to get infections, as are children with other medical conditions. This includes children with a weakened immune system and children who require a urinary catheter.
Young children may only have general symptoms of an infection. These include irritability, loss of appetite, vomiting and fever. Unspecific signs are common in infants. Older children may have strong-smelling urine, blood in the urine, pain low in the belly and pain when urinating. Flank or back pain can be a sign that inflammation has spread to the kidneys (pyelonephritis).
The diagnosis is based on the symptoms and clinical examination and is confirmed by analysis of the urine, testing for blood and pus. It maybe necessary to send the urine to a lab to diagnose the specific bacteria causing the infection. It may also be necessary to perform an ultrasound scan of the bladder and kidneys if the child suffers recurrent urinary tract infections.
Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. Children who become very unwell or who have other medical conditions may need treatment in hospital with fluids and antibiotics through a drip. It is helpful to stay well hydrated, in order to flush the bacteria out of the bladder.
Keeping the area of the urinary meatus (where urine exits the body) clean helps to prevent urinary tract infections. Examples of good hygiene include changing diapers regularly and wiping from front-to-back with wipes/toilet paper.
Other names for pediatric urinary tract infection
- childhood urine infection